News in brief:
More BA Gatwick schedule changes
British Airways has announced some additional schedule changes for Gatwick this Winter. None of these are substantial. The reason I mention them is that, because these flights were only added into the system on Wednesday, there should still be Avios availability on most dates even at peak times.
This is what is coming:
- Funchal – extra weekly departure on a Tuesday from 1st November
- Lanzarote – extra weekly departure on a Saturday from 5th November
- Amsterdam – extra weekly departure on a Thursday from 3rd November
- Jersey – extra weekly departure on a Sunday from 30th October
- Salzburg – extra weekly departure on a Saturday from 5th November
- Turin – extra weekly departure on a Monday from 31st October
- Nice – extra weekly departure on a Wednesday from 23rd November
All of these can now be booked at ba.com.
As at 4pm yesterday there were still 4 economy seats and 2 Club Europe seats to Salzburg on the Saturday of February half term (11th). This is probably THE most expensive BA short-haul flight of the year, filled with skiers. For cash, those same economy seats are selling for £322 one-way EACH.
Virgin Atlantic sale expands booking dates
The Virgin Atlantic sale is continuing for another few days, ending on 12th July.
The available bookings dates for the cheapest fares have just been widened for many destinations. If you tried to book earlier but found prices higher than the ‘lead in’ advertised fare it may be worth another look. The headline prices are:
Economy: Boston £438, Atlanta £577, New York £438, Washington £482, Miami £439, San Francisco £547, Dubai £350, Cancun £494
Premium Economy: Boston £716, Chicago £780, Las Vegas £795, New York £716
Starwood launches ‘Member Exclusive Rates’
Finally, Starwood (owners of Le Meridien, Westin, St Regis, Aloft, Element, W and Sheraton) has joined Hilton, IHG and other brands in fully rolling out ‘Member Exclusive Rates’. You will now pay less if you book at spg.com and are a member of Starwood Preferred Guest.
Such rates are the new weapon being used by the big brands in the war with Expedia and booking.com. A loophole in the contracts with the online travel agents allows the chains to sell their rooms cheaper on their own websites as long as they are not ‘publicly available’. Making you sign up as a member of the loyalty scheme – for free – before you can book these rates is how they claim the discounts are not ‘publicly available’.
You should, in any case, be booking direct with the chain in most cases. This is the only way to earn loyalty points from your stay and, for most chains, get your status benefits recognised.
The alternative is to commit to something like Hotels.com Rewards which gives you a free night for every 10 nights you book irrespective of brand. Next Friday I am actually using a Hotels.com Rewards free night for the very first time – it took me about four years to do the 10 nights required because the bulk of my bookings do go via direct booking channels.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (August 2022)
There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.
You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:
- American Express Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Rewards Credit Card (5,000 bonus Amex points)
and for small business owners:
- American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Business Platinum (40,000 bonus Amex points)
The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)